Leveraging Social Media for Professional Networking 

Social Media, social media, social media… does a day go past and you not hear the term? We hear about doomscrolling, where you whittle away time doing nothing except scanning what is in front of you. You can suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) if you do not keep up to date with everything in your feed. 

A question for you… how often do you use social media to network with intent? I do not mean sliding into someone’s DMs with the hope of scoring a date. At least a romantic date. I mean a connection with someone with intent for professional networking purposes. 

For what seems like time immemorial networking has been recommended. It is who you know! Social media networking is no different to the methods of before. You could say it is easier now as you can find people and connect with them with the clickety clack of your keyboard. A client networked with a key person who was not in their network with a view to getting a new job. After sleuthing to find the right person they introduced themselves with an InMail on LinkedIn and boom met for coffee shortly after. Several discussions ensued over several months and voila they landed a job with their target company. The role is was tailored to them as they were coming into the organisation with special value. How good would that be?! This could be you, connecting with new people and achieving what you want. 

How do you work out what your networking goals are? 

START with what you want to achieve. Perhaps it is: 

      • A better network in your current industry 
      • New people in a new industry 
      • People who work in the same profession as you who you can learn from and vice versa 
      • People you want to mentor 
      • Riffing over ideas with like-minded people 
      • Searching for your next role via your network 

    When you are clear on what you want from networking you will more easily be able to identify people to connect and build relationships with. Of course, it will help if you like each other and get along.  

    I strongly suggest jotting down your networking goals. I have mine on a whiteboard next to my desk. I look at them most days and that helps me stay on track. 

    Now that you are clear on your goals how do you find those people? 

    There are many platforms that you can access, LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, X to name a few of the better-known ones.  

    Take a moment to consider where these kinds of people hang out 

    Ask yourself, is it appropriate to connect with them on … platform? 

    Some platforms are designed for professional purposes (LinkedIn), others friends first and foremost and others there are blurred lines. 

    I recommend asking yourself which platform first. Then searching for the person or people on that platform and working out whether it’s the right place. 

    A friend is a full-time artist. Her platform is Instagram. She has a consistent presence with a mix of daily life photos and anecdotes and images of her paintings. She does extremely well and has a followership of around 7,500 people.  

    My main platform is LinkedIn and I have around 20,000 followers. 

    What my friend and I have in common is we know what our main platform is. We understand our goals. And we stay true to our intent. She works Instagram. I work LinkedIn.

    As the saying goes, no one will find you if you are sitting at home watching the tele (all of the time).  

    Which platform or platforms are right for you? 

    Now that you know what platform is your place, how do you craft your online presence? 

    Your online presence MUST align with your brand.  

    What is your brand?  

    What do you want people to be saying about you when you are not in the room?  

    If you have not nailed that down yet, it is the first thing to work on. 

    To align with your brand and interests you MUST let people know what you stand for. That means showing up on the platform with posts, comments, shares and connections.  

    In the past two weeks I have posted on LinkedIn eight times and from that have now gained three new clients. Not a bad return on investment is it! 

    My friend the artist sells around 3-4 paintings every week that she paints. Again, not a bad return on investment. 

        • Play around with different types of content and see what lands. 
        • Be consistent with your approach. This is something I struggle with myself. Be active on your platform every workday and maybe on Saturdays too. 
        • Deliver content that aligns with y 
        • our interests 
        • your brand 
        • what your ‘audience’ are interested in and,  
        • gives the people seeing it a sense of who you are. Your personality, interests, style. 

      Connect with people in your target audience by searching: 

          • Customise your search. 
          • Look for connections in common 

        Engaging with their content with comments, likes and shares 

        Be consistent and persistent over a LONG period of time. A few weeks or months will not cut it. Campaign like a politician, that is, do not stop campaigning.  

        When you engage with others, make sure it is meaningful and consistent. Clapping from the audience with a ‘well done’ message is nice. It is does not add to the post. It acts like a ‘like’ or ‘care’ or ‘love’.  

        Do not underestimate the power of a share. Sharing other people’s content really gives you traction. I tested this recently and the post received an overwhelming amount of interest. 

        You have a new contact, how do you approach them? 

        Have something to say that aims to open a discussion. If you have connected with them because they are in the same industry, an opening message like –  

        It is great to have you in my network. I connected with you because (make sure this is customised for the person). It would be great to have a chat some time. Is there any chance you are available for a coffee or virtual get together in the next x weeks’ time? 

        Some further tips: 

            • Be respectful 
            • Do not take it personally if the person does not respond 
            • Keep a tracker of the people you are connecting with, why you are connecting with them, and where you are at. Include the number of times you have engaged with them and the outcomes. This will help you to determine whether what you are doing is working or not. 

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